News Digest — 4/18/24

Senior Hamas Intelligence Officer Killed In Israeli Airstrike In Central Gaza

The IDF killed a senior Hamas intelligence officer in an overnight strike on a terrorist cell in the central Gaza Strip, the military reported on Thursday (18th).

The terrorist killed, Yussef Rafik Ahmed Shabat served as a security officer in the military intelligence wing of Hamas’ Beit Hanoun Battalion.

Shabat was responsible for investigations in Hamas’ Beit Hanoun Internal Security Department, the military added.

IDF troops, along with the help of the Shin Bet from the Fire Unit 215, targeted ten terrorists using vehicle-mounted aircraft.  The attack was carried out after gathering precise intelligence.

Israeli Air Force jets, in coordination with the Southern Command’s Fire Center, targeted a rocket launcher yesterday (Wed. 17th) in the Rimaleh neighborhood area, from which several launches were directed towards forces of Brigade 162 operating in the area.

Over the past few days, Israeli Air Force units have targeted dozens of terror targets throughout Gaza, including observation posts, military structures, and terrorists..

The attack comes amid reports claiming that the US has agreed to an Israeli ground invasion in the southern Gaza city of Rafah if Israel does not retaliate with counterstrikes against Iran.



Hezbollah Suicide Drone Attack On Northern Israel Leaves 18 Injured

At least 18 Israelis were injured after an aerial attack by Hezbollah on Wednesday (17th), which saw a suicide drone launched by the Lebanese terror group slam into a community center in northern Israel.

The victims, who included both civilians and IDF reservists, were transported to the Galilee Medical Center in Nahariya.  Four people were reported to be seriously wounded, while the remainder were listed by the hospital as being in moderate to light condition.

The explosions occurred in Arab Al-Aramashe, a bedouin village less than a mile away from the northern border with Lebanon.

Due to its proximity to Lebanon, the community was evacuated in October, 2023.  However many of the residents chose to return to their homes after being housed in a Nazareth hotel for nearly six months.

Videos from the scene circulating on social media depicted large plumes of black smoke rising from the site, with an additional video capturing flames upon the moment of impact.  Other videos showed that the community center windows had shattered.

The blast wounded people inside the center and passengers in a car that had driven by at the time of the explosion.

According to the mayor of Arab Al-Aramashe, two additional projectiles, which may have been anti-tank missiles, struck the village.

“The village took three hits, including one direct hit to the community center, and another struck  the plaza in front of it,” Adib Za’eb told Maariv.

Wednesday’s (17th) blast was not the first time that the Bedouin community was targeted by the Hezbollah group.

During the 2006 Lebanon War, three residents of Arab Al-Aramashe  were killed when a Hezbollah rocket struck their home.



Netanyahu To UK, German FMs: ‘Thanks , But We Make Our Own Decisions’

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu thanked Israel’s allies for their support and advice, but stressed that Israel would be making its own decisions, after meeting with UK Foreign Secretary David Cameron and German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock on Wednesday (17th).

During the meeting with Cameron and Baerbock, Netanyahu insisted on Israel’s right to self defense.  Netanyahu thanked the two ministers for their unequivocal support for Israel.

The prime minister also presented the foreign ministers with updates about humanitarian aid efforts to Gaza and the continuation of the war there.  Netanyahu rejected claims that there is a famine in Gaza and insisted that Israel is going “above and beyond” on humanitarian issues.

In a cabinet meeting after the talks between the ministers, Netanyahu thanked Israel’s friends for “their support for the defense of Israel.”

The prime minister also said of Israel’s allies, “they have all kinds of suggestions and advice.  I appreciate it, but I want to make it clear – we will make our own decisions, and the State of Israel will do everything necessary to defend itself.”

Cameron and Baerbock arrived in Israel on Wednesday morning (17th).

Following a meeting with Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz and President Isaac Herzog, Cameron told reporters, “It’s clear the Israelis are making a decision to act,” regarding a response to Iran’s drone and ballistic missile attack on Saturday (13th).

Cameron added that Britain wants to see coordinated sanctions against Iran.  “They need to be given a clear unequivocal message by the G7,” he stated.

FM Katz told the British and German officials, “Now is our opportunity to change the region, to call the revolutionary Guards by their real name, a terror organization, and impose sanctions on Iran’s missile project.” 

In a statement on X, formerly Twitter, Baerbock stated on Tuesday (16th), “Iran is playing with the fate of all people in the Middle East and has led an entire region to the brink of the abyss.  The aim now is to stop Iran without further escalation.  Iran’s plan to create further violence must not work.”

She also assured that Israel has Germany’s full support and highlighted that “many dozens of Israeli hostages are still being held captive in Hamas tunnels.”  She called for their release.

Israel’s President Isaac Herzog thanked the two officials for their support on X.

“Thank you, UK Foreign Secretary David Cameron and German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock; I appreciate our warm discussion together this morning in Jerusalem.  Thank you for both the UK and Germany’s strong stand alongside Israel in the face of the reprehensible attack by Iran.  The whole world must work decisively and defiantly against the threat posed by the Iranian regime, which is seeking to undermine the stability of the whole region,” Herzog said in his post.

UK FM Cameron met with officials in Lebanon and the United Arab Emirates on Tuesday (16th) to express his condemnation of Iran’s attack, as well as to express “the need to work with partners in the region to de-escalate tensions,” he said in a statement on X.



Gallant At Murder Scene: ‘Iran’s Terrorism Starts In Tehran And Reaches Judea And Samaria’

Minister of Defense Yoav Gallant on Wednesday (17th) visited the scene of the attack where a shepherd, 14-year-old Benjamin Achimeir, was murdered by terrorists last Friday (12th).  The Minister was briefed on the operational and intelligence efforts conducted to apprehend the perpetrators.

Minister Gallant later held an operational situation assessment together with the Head of the Central Command Maj. Gen. Yehuda Fox, Commander of the Judea and Samaria Civision Brig. Gen. Yaki Dolf, Head of the Civil Administration Lt. Col. Hisham Ibrahim, and additional senior officials. 

“I toured the area near the Malachei Shalom farm in Judea and Samaria and visited the site where the late Benjamin Achimeir was murdered a few days ago.  We will apprehend the murderers and bring them to justice,” Gallant stated.   

“Even here in Judea and Samaria, Iran attempts to incite terrorism – transferring weapons and funds, and directing attacks in order to harm the citizens of Israel.  Terrorism starts in Tehran, reaches Beirut, Damascus, here in Judea and Samaria, and then Gaza – Iran’s bloodstained fingerprints are everywhere.”

“We will cut them off wherever they attempt to infiltrate – we will defend the citizens of Israel,” he concluded.



48 Countries At UN Condemn Iranian Attack On Israel: ‘ A Pattern Of Dangerous Actions’

The Permanent Representatives of 48 countries at the United Nations on Wednesday (17th) issued a joint statement condemning Iran’s drone and missile attack on Israel.

“We unequivocally condemn the April 13 attacks by the Islamic Republic of Iran and its militant partners on the State of Israel, which involved launching several hundred ballistic missiles, cruise missiles and attack drones against multiple targets, and note this large-scale attack could have caused significant  damage and loss of life,” the statement said.

“We further condemn the fact that the weapons launched at Israel violated the airspace of several regional states, putting at risk the lives of innocent people in those countries, and appeared to traverse airspace near holy sites in Jerusalem,” it added.

“We welcome the efforts to avert a further immediate escalation of violence in the region, following the successful coordinated efforts to defend against Iran’s attack.”

“We condemn Iran’s unlawful seizure of a Portuguese flagged commercial ship near the Strait of Hormuz on April 13 and call on Iran to release the ship and its international crew immediately.”

“We note that Iran’s escalatory attack is the latest in a pattern of dangerous and destabilizing actions by Iran and its militant partners that pose a grave threat to international peace and security,” the envoys said.

They called “on all regional parties to take steps to avert further escalation of the situation and demand that all council resolutions be fully implemented. We will strengthen our diplomatic cooperation to work toward resolving all tensions in the region.”

The statement was signed by the envoys of the United States, Albania, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Cyprus, Czechia, Denmark, Ecuador, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Moldova, Monaco, Montenegro, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Federated States of Micronesia, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Poland, Portugal, The Republic of Korea, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Ukraine, and the United Kingdom.



Be’eri Farmer Who Lost His Wife, Son And Leg On Oct. 7 Returns To His Fields

Six months after losing his wife, his 15-year-old son and one of his legs in the Oct. 7 massacre perpetrated by Hamas terrorists in southern Israel, Avida Bachar is back on his land.

Walking with a cane and a prosthetic leg after nearly half a year in the hospital, the 50-year-old farmer stared over the avocado plantation in Kibbutz Be’eri, where he was born and which lies less than a mile from the border with Gaza.

On Oct. 7, Bachar’s wife and son were killed in front of his eyes after terrorists overwhelmed them in their two-story home, which was utterly gutted.  But despite the pain, he is determined to choose life.

“We underwent tragedy.  But you can’t change the past, only the future,” he told JNS on Tuesday (16th).  This is not the closing of a circle.  This is a continuation.”

On that nightmare morning, Oct. 7, Bachar was home with his wife Dana, and their two teenage children, son, Carmel,15 and daughter, Hadar, 14, when the sound of sirens and incoming rockets awakened them.

Like all the residents of Gaza border communities, who have faced such attacks for over a decade and a half, they were expecting the military to show up and then announce an all-clear.

Instead, the sound of gunfire burst out and their community WhatsApp alerts warned of intruding terrorists.

The family huddled in their safe room.  Like most safe rooms, which are designed to protect against rockets and mortars, there was no lock on the door.

By late morning terrorists burst into their home and tried to force their way into the safe room.  Bachar and Carmel held the door shut from the inside, knowing that it was the only thing between them and certain death.

The terrorist riddled the door with bullets, hitting Carmel’s arms and piercing Bachar’s leg.  The door handle was also hit, jamming the door shut.  The terrorists set the house on fire.

“They were very organized and very systematic,” Bachar recounted.

Talking to a medic by phone, the family tried to create a makeshift tourniquet to stop Carmel’s bleeding.  The safe room began to fill with smoke.  The family covered their faces with urine-soaked towels to help them breathe, he recalled.

As the family lay huddled on the floor, his son bleeding to death, his wife suddenly cried out “I cant breathe” and lay deathly still.

Hadar, who was relentlessly phoning police and rescue officials, called medics and asked what to do.  They were told to look for bullet wounds on Dana but could not find any.  They later learned that a bullet fragment had pierced Dana’s ribs causing her death.

That afternoon Carmel also died, and Hadar begged her father, “Don’t leave me.”  “I won’t” he promised. 

When the Israeli Defense Forces were able to get to Bachar’s house, they brought him and Hadar out through a window.  He was rushed to the emergency room having lost a lot of blood. 

After his leg was amputated, Bachar underwent months of recovery in the hospital.  

Bachar said “The greatest lesson of my life is seeing the half of the glass of life that is full.  Of course we are returning to Be’eri.”  

He currently splits his time between the Dead Sea hotel where he is temporarily housed, and his farm in the community, which lost 10% of its 1,100 members in the attack.

His eldest son is already long back on the kibbutz, working in the print shop.

“We are coming home,” said Bachar, “I am coming back to my land.”